Body found in hunt for six-year-old boy — Maddox Ritch missing


Maddox's parents have been notified of the discovery.

According to Gastonia Police, the body believed to be the missing 6-year-old with autism was found near Marietta Street and Old Dallas Highway in Gastonia at around 1 p.m.

Earlier Thursday, the city sent out a reverse 911 robocall to 32,146 landlines and cellphone numbers in an effort to find people who were in the park the day Maddox went missing, but had not yet come forward to police.

Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton is asking people that live around the area of Rankin Lake Park to check their homes and property, including sheds and garages.

Maddox, who is autistic and does not speak, disappeared on Saturday when he ran ahead of his father at Rankin Lake Park.

During a news conference on Wednesday, Ian Ritch said that Maddox initially took off a little ways ahead, maybe "25 to 30 feet" before he went into a "major sprint". Ritch, who said he has foot pain because of diabetes, said he ran after his son but couldn't find him.

"I was running. I couldn't catch up with him". The father said he is a diabetic and because he has neuropathy in his feet, he has trouble running. He said once he couldn't see his son, he got scared. "Then it got scary", he said.

Ritch joined Gastonia, North Carolina police and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents for a news conference Wednesday, hours after appearing on ABC's "Good Morning America" to talk about his son.

Police in North Carolina released the Maddox Ritch 911 call on the morning of September 27.

The 6-year-old with blond hair and bright blue eyes had a wide, infectious smile.

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The FBI plans to bring new equipment, different from what's been previously used, to the lake search, according to WBTV.

"It's been almost 75 agonizing hours since 6-year-old Maddox Ritch disappeared", Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton said.

The little boy's mother Carrie Ritch appeared at a press conference where she pleaded through tears for help locating her child. He loves the park, bouncy balls and his teddy bear.

"Continue praying for him because I just want my baby home, please, whatever you can do", she said. "Maddox is my whole world, my reason for living". "We searched everywhere." He said during the call that Maddox's parents were still searching for their son.

"It's hard to sleep".

"It hit me as a mom, initially", Iseah said. He got out of my view, and that's whenever I never seen him again. Maddox was reported missing from Rankin Lake Park on Saturday. "We need to talk to every single person who was there, you may know something that could help us".

They say all possibilities to explain his disappearance, including an abduction, are on the table. "We prayed that this was not going to be the result of this thing", one unidentified woman, a neighbor, said in a WBTV report.

Children with autism are often prone to wandering or bolting away.

"Maddox Ritch, a attractive young man, blond hair, blue eyes, out walking this past Saturday with his dad". Maddox had disappeared before his dad could catch up to him.